To newlyweds Wilma and Charles W. Linderman of Alexandria, it was not surprising that their holiday honeymoon trip to visit his parents terminated in Portland, Ore. That was their intended destination.
But it was something of a miracle that they lived through it.
The Lindermans of 512 Putnam Pl. were among 175 survivors of the crash Thursday night of United Air Lines' Flight 173 in a residential area a few miles from Portland International Airport.
"Many of us felt that the hand of God was very close to that plane," said Linderman, an executive with the Washington-based Slurry Transport Association, in a telephone interview from Portland.
"The plane shuddered and bounced around. It was very apparent something was quite wrong," Linderman said as he described the final moments aboard the DC8.
"When we impacted, we bounced and bounced rather hard. We bounced along, landed on a couple of houses, took some telephone lines and some Douglas fir trees with us, and finally came to rest on two houses."
"then I slid down the roof of the house to get out of the plane -- which by then was a pile of rubble -- and landed on the ground in somebody's backyard. I stumbled around through the rubble, then gathered up my wife who came out behind me, and we waited for aid vehicles on the coldest night in Portland this year."
Linderman said the plane was only five minutes away from touchdown when the pilot's voice came over the inyercom. "He said the cockpit lights were going on and showing the landing gear was abnormal."
In the next 35 minutes, Linderman said, while the aircraft circled Portland airport, stewardesses rehearsed emergency landing procedures, made certain "that all the kids -- and there were many -- were packed in" and ordered passengers to tighten seatbelts.
Passengers were handed their coats from the overhead racks -- "the stewardesses knew it was going to be cold and it provided some cushion," Linderman said -- but women passengers were told to leave their purses behind.
"I had to leave my glasses behind," he said. "(But) there was only one thing to do when the plane stopped, and that was get up and get out."
In the last few minutes before landing, passengers were told put their heads between their legs in preparation for a crash landing. Linderman, who was sitting with his wife near the middle of the craft, where the wing joined the fuselage, said that "we were pretty well in that position, gliding, when all of a sudden it was very apparent there was no power left in the engine."
Linderman, one of the early ones out said he and his wife climbed out the emergency exit door over the wings. Both suffered only bruises. They were treated and released Thursday night from Portland's Good Samaritan Hospital.
"People just rallied to help. Many people in that East Burnside neighborhood of Multnomah County were very helpful, bringing blankets, taking people in their homes until emergency vehicles arrived," he said.
Earlier that day, Linderman had left Stockton, Kan., where he had been visiting his new in-laws. The Lindermans boarded Flight 173 in Denver.
Linderman said he was unsure when he and his wife would return to Washington, but said he was certain the trip would be by air.
"I won't take Amtrak," he said firmly. "These things do happen, and we were fortunate to have a crew that did everything possible for the passengers."